Tag Archives: yams

Open letter to produce managers re: yams

Dear Produce Manager,

If you want to sell more orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, craft your labels with “yams” in parentheses, like this:

Sweet potatoes (“yams”)

Because you are a produce manager, you undoubtedly know that a yam is a completely unrelated thing, so using quotation marks will indicate to ignorant shoppers that you are not actually selling yams. As you also surely know, “yam” is regional slang used by some (generally older folks) to refer to a sweet potato that has orange flesh. But if you only have “yams” on label, some shoppers might get flustered and leave for another store that labels sweet potatoes as “sweet potatoes.” Still others are looking for a specific variety of orange-fleshed sweet potato (Beauregard, Jewel, etc.), so list that, too. E.g.,

‘Beauregard’ sweet potatoes (“yams”)

That’s a lot of text, but different varieties are good for different recipes, and some of your customers are over-educated foodies who care deeply about such details. Ideally, cut one in half and cover in plastic wrap to convince skeptical shoppers that it does, indeed, have orange flesh.

Sincerely,
Colin Purrington

These are sweet potatoes

Letter to customers about yams and sweet potatoes

If you are the produce czar or czarina at a grocery store, here’s a sign you can print out that will reduce shoppers’ confusion over yams and sweet potatoes. Come on, do your part! More at “Yams versus sweet potatoes“.

Sign for informing customers that sweet potatoes will no longer be sold as yamsAnd, ideally, couple the announcement with new signage for your sweet potato bins. Something that shows off the flesh (the sweet potato flesh, that is).

Sweet potato latex

Here’s a fun trick for Thanksgiving. If you get into an argument about whether you purchased yams or sweet potatoes at the store, chop one in half before cooking and look for milky white sap bleeding off the flesh. Only sweet potatoes do that. But if you don’t see sap, that might mean you just have an old sweet potato, so don’t place large bets when doing this. More useless trivia at “Yams versus sweet potatoes“.

close-up photograph of cut sweet potato exuding white latex sap